Rehabilitate the Exterior of the Main Immigration Building on Ellis Island

Historic photo of the Ellis Main Immigration Building
View of the Immigration Station, Ellis Island (front side). (c. 1902-1913)

From The New York Public Library

What's Happening?

Funded by the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), the project will include repair of masonry facades, windows, skylights, clay tile roofing, as well as underlying structural issues that need to be addressed to restore the integrity of the building exterior.

GAOA's National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, supported by revenue from energy development, provides the National Park Service with up to $1.3 billion per year for five years to make significant enhancements in national parks to ensure their preservation and provide opportunities for recreation, education and enjoyment for current and future visitors. GAOA, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other construction funding sources are part of a concerted effort to address extensive maintenance and repair backlog in national parks.    

The last major restoration of the Main Immigration Building was completed in the 1980s to make way for the museum. The intent of this exterior repair is to correct the deficiencies in the structure’s exterior systems so that the historic fabric of the building itself and the important resources it contains will be preserved and protected.

Skylight on historic brick building
Skylight at south atrium of Ellis Island Main Building, 2023 (pre-construction).

NPS photo

Why Are We Doing This Project?

The limestone and brick facades of the structure are generally sound, but show significant localized failure that may pose safety risks to the public and compromise the fabric of the existing building. There is active water infiltration in the structure, most noticeably at interior finishes. Open masonry joints and deterioration of the upper roof and structure are contributing to the water infiltration. Additionally, skylights that were installed in the 1980s have reached the end of their useful life and are contributing to resource degradation. Most of the building windows have not been significantly repaired since the 1980s rehabilitation and show varying degrees of deterioration.


How Will This Impact Your Visit?

During rehabilitation, there will be noise and construction activity around the Main Immigration Building. You are likely to see large construction equipment on the island. There may be short-term temporary closures of parts of the perimeter walkways and building entrances/exits. There will be scaffolding during masonry and window repair at differing elevations as the work progresses. There may be construction materials and personnel in the interior of the building as the work progresses. Throughout the construction, Ellis Island and the National Museum of Immigration will remain open to visitors.

Last updated: March 14, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Receiving Office
1 Ellis Island

Jersey City, NJ 07305


212 363-3200

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